Football, soccer to those who live in the United States, remains the world’s game that is responsible for the most-valuable sports franchises on the planet today. National Football League teams dominate the majority of that list, however, filling out 30 of the top 50 spots.
25 of the 32 teams currently in the NFL are worth at least $1 billion. No team in pro football’s top league has a value of under $900 million. Money rules all, even in athletics, and thus the NFL is the true undisputed king of the professional sports world.
These 10 teams are the least valuable in the NFL.
Values courtesy of Forbes
10. New Orleans Saints — Team Value: $1.11 Billion
Loveable losers no more, the Saints are, so long as they avoid controversial incidents that result in head coach Sean Payton being banned for an entire season, playoff contenders every year. That is thanks largely to quarterback Drew Brees. Brees has been one of the best in the business since joining up with New Orleans before the 2006 regular season. The Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP has thrown for over 5,100 in each of the past three years.
Enjoy Brees while you can, New Orleans fans. The veteran of 13 NFL seasons will turn 36 years old next January. While the club isn’t there yet, the time for finding a replacement for the to-be Hall of Fame quarterback is fast approaching.
9. Kansas City Chiefs — Team Value: $1.10 Billion
The Chiefs were awful two seasons ago, a 2-14 side with little hope for the immediate future. Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid then took over in KC, and the Chiefs began the 2013 campaign with nine straight wins. Kansas City finished the season second in the AFC West standings with a 11-5 record, earning a trip to the Wild Card Round of the playoffs in the process.
The Chiefs jumped out to a 28-point advantage at the Indianapolis Colts during that postseason contest. Disaster struck KC after halftime, however, as Indianapolis put 35 points on the scoreboard in the second half of the game to rally to an unfathomable 45-44 win.
8. Arizona Cardinals — Team Value: $1.0 Billion
Arizona is a franchise in a tough spot as the summer of 2014 nears its end. The team’s defense was not, at the start of summer, as good as are the units belonging to division rivals the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. Arizona then lost defensive tackle Darnell Dockett to an ACL tear in the team’s second preseason game of 2014.
Things aren’t all that sparkling for the club on the other side of the football. Carson Palmer is a veteran nearing the end of his playing days. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is one of the greatest players in the history of the Cardinals, but he could be on the verge of beginning his last season as a member of the club. Fitzgerald’s cap hit rises to $23.6 million in 2015.
7. San Diego Chargers — Team Value: $995 Million
San Diego is another franchise on this list seemingly stuck in NFL purgatory. The Chargers have talent, yes, but there isn’t much reason to believe that they have the goods to catch up with the Denver Broncos before January 2015 rolls around. Quarterback Philip Rivers enjoyed a revival in 2013, but he on his own can only do so much.
There’s more. The Chargers, according to Forbes, “generate among the lowest stadium revenues in the NFL.” Local residents are not able to vote on a stadium proposal for the club until November 2016. Much, either good or bad, could happen between now and then.
6. Cincinnati Bengals — Team Value: $990 Million
Winning division titles and then getting immediately bounced out of postseason play will only cut it for fans of the Bengals for so long. Division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers have twice won the Super Bowl in the past decade. The Baltimore Ravens, also of the AFC North, won a championship in February 2013.
Cincinnati has, for the next few seasons, gone all-in on quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton, who has yet to notch his first postseason victory (0-4 record in the playoffs), signed a deal with the Bengals earlier this summer that guaranteed him $17 million. Cincy will financially be able to review that contract and consider cutting ties with the signal caller after the 2016 season.
5. Oakland Raiders — Team Value: $970 Million
The Oakland Raiders are making news headlines for reasons that have little to do with on-the-field performances. Water is still wet, and the sky is still blue.
Oakland’s short-term lease to remain in the team’s current stadium home is not long for this world, and the same could be said about the Raiders remaining in Oakland. Rumors are linking the club with a return to Los Angeles. It’s also been speculated that San Antonio could be in for obtaining an already-existing NFL franchise.
As for the roster of the Raiders, there are far more questions than answers. Quarterback Matt Schaub was more known for throwing pick-sixes than for winning in 2013. Rookie QB Derek Carr sustained a concussion and rib injuries in preseason action. Things may get worse before they get better for Raider Nation.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars — Team Value: $965 Million
The Jaguars have taken steps to keep the team in Florida, pumping $30 million into Everbank Field for renovations. That said, those pesky rumors about the Jags being the first NFL franchise located in London were the league to decide to expand overseas continue to swirl about. Shahid Khan, owner of the Jaguars, also owns Fulham Football Club of the English Football League Championship.
Veteran quarterback Chad Henne is expected to lead the Jacksonville offense in Week 1 of the upcoming season. He is, however, merely keeping the seat warm for a younger option. The Jaguars selected UCF product Blake Bortles with the third pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, and it is only a matter of time before Bortles is handed the keys to the offense.
3. Detroit Lions — Team Value: $960 Million
Money is a sensitive subject for the Lions, and not just because of where the club resides in this list. Detroit’s salary cap situation is downright scary in August 2014. With neither quarterback Matthew Stafford or wide receiver Calvin Johnson going anywhere anytime soon, the team’s front office may have no other choice than to trade away a top-tier defensive star.
One of the worst secrets in the NFL is that Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh wants to be the highest-paid defensive tackle in the league. He is also able to void his current contract next February after the Super Bowl is played. The Lions trading Suh could be on the table in October if the team stumbles out of the gates at the start of the upcoming season.
2. Buffalo Bills — Team Value: $935 Million
The long-awaited sale of the Bills is, if certain reports are accurate, close to being finalized. That news brings with it no guarantee of the future location of the club. Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula remain in the mix to buy the Bills. Donald Trump and rock star Jon Bon Jovi are also reportedly in contention.
The Pegula family are committed to keeping the Bills in Buffalo, which is why they are fan-favorites to acquire the club. Bon Jovi, on the other hand, leads a Toronto-based group that is interested in buying the Bills. That group has yet to promise local fans that the team would remain in Buffalo if it was presented with the opportunity to complete the transaction.
1. St. Louis Rams — Team Value: $930 Million
The Rams made worldwide sports headlines back in May when the club made defensive end Michael Sam the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team. Sam’s status on the roster of the Rams as of September 1 is not alone going to save the team’s upcoming season. St. Louis suffered a grave blow when 26-year-old quarterback Sam Bradford tore his left ACL in a preseason matchup. The same ACL he had surgically repaired last season.
Bradford is out for the entire season and many are writing the 2010 first overall pick as a bust. But regardless of how the Rams perform over the next several months without their franchise QB, the team could relocate as soon as next spring. Is the return of the Los Angeles Rams imminent? Some who cover the team and league believe St. Louis will be without an NFL franchise after 2014.